Written by: Eric Fischer and Brianna Lee Johnson
Directed by: Jon D. Wagner
Starring: Katharine Brandt, Annie Burgstede, and Anthony Campanello
Reviewed by: Brett G.
Someone is always watching.
In real life, forgetting your anniversary will probably make your significant other want to kill you (metaphorically speaking, of course). But if you happen to stumble into a slasher movie, forgetting an anniversary will likely land you on a literal chopping block. These flicks often hover around the milestone of some massacre or tragedy, and there’s always a steady supply of stupid kids who are obvious to it, which means that date on the calendar just gets bloodier. The Anniversary at Shallow Creek gives us another day to be wary of, even if the protagonists themselves aren’t.
Because this is a slasher, we open with a prologue featuring a couple of students who are pumped to finally be alone and have a big vacation house to themselves. Except, of course, they aren’t alone and end up getting splattered all over the place. A year later, the next round of dimwits have rented the same house for the weekend; after raising a little bit of hell, they find themselves terrorized by a masked psychopath with a rifle.
I had planned on making a joke about how appropriate it was that a slasher had the word “shallow” in its title, but I had to back off of that one a bit. This is not to say the film is particularly deep (the opening shot features a girl bouncing around in her undergarments), but it does try its hand at being a little more than a “blood and boobs” romp. That said, this leads to the film’s fatally-flawed tonal mish-mash that prevents it from ever gaining solid footing. It begins as a typical splatter movie, complete with a requisite opening act that features the obnoxious cast getting shit-faced and raising hell (somewhere in there, they befriend a little boy). Then it tries to be a suspense/thriller as the characters are stalked by the killer, which would be fine if we actually really cared about them. Instead, I kind of wished they’d just get slashed apart in glorious fashion (which they don’t) as they try to discover who’s trying to kill them.
By the time the final act rolls around and reveals the big secret, it decides it wants to be a Saw knock-off, complete with some twisted choices and grim torture. The film does manage to cleverly play off of the anniversary aspect promised by its title, but you’ll hardly be raising out of your chair in disbelief. Despite this, the film is slick enough and moves along well once the plodding drinking/partying opening third is done. The performances are average at best, and the few gore effects are adequately bloody. You could argue that the presence of a little kid in peril adds a dark, mean twist on the formula, and I suppose it does. With films like this, you often wonder if they’re just going to “go there” for the sake of shocks, and this one is really no different.
Though it tries to play out as something more than a typical slasher, it doesn’t completely succeed. You’re ultimately left with normal schlock that’s interesting at best, kind of dull at worst. Another one for the indie slasher pile, as it were. Just about everyone involved is as green as owl dung, and many of them could have decent careers ahead of them. The Anniversary at Shallow Creek just feels like an obligatory early career slasher rest stop, and everyone emerges fine in the end (albeit with a few lumps in the form of shoddy line deliveries).
Breaking Glass Pictures has seemingly released a ton of movies like this, and it doesn’t do much to separate itself from their other offerings. Their DVD of the film will arrive in stores on July 5th, and it’ll come with a behind-the-scenes featurette, production interviews, and a “feature commentary.” Mark the calendar if you can’t get enough of watching oblivious kids getting terrorized by masked maniacs. Don’t be surprised if you forget this anniversary in the future, though. Rent it!
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